One might say that Emmi Jouslehto’s entrepreneurial journey got its first spark when she was a child. Emmi was always passionate about stories with hidden doors taking you to another world, just like in Narnia or Alice in Wonderland. The power behind imagination and storytelling is something that has stayed with her ever since.
Emmi graduated as a Geographer but found her love in Geoinformatics, where she spent over a decade working with location-based solutions. Later in her career, she found something every geographer dreams about; a new territory, a real no man’s land to be explored: Augmented Reality. Emmi is today one of the three co-founders at Arilyn, one of the companies at the forefront of virtual spaces providing emotionally engaging XR experiences.
1. Tell us what your company does and why you do it without talking about your product.
Arilyn is one of the global pioneers in Augmented and Mixed Reality (yes, we have been around since 2013!).
We have a vision of a world filled with emotionally engaging XR experiences. Our mission is to drive the change towards the new XR enriched life and guide our clients, so they are ready for it.
2. Tell us something unexpected within your entrepreneurial journey.
Many may not know that Arilyn’s first office was located in the old butchers’ sauna at the Teurastamo (the old Helsinki Slaughterhouse). The office area was in a rough condition, with almost no natural light coming in from the ceiling’s windows, and not even warm water entered the space at the time.
The fall was so cold that we sat in the office with the coats on. Despite this, I remember the time in that first office with exceptional warmth – an internal fire kept us going. Today in that space is the B-Side Bar, which is nice to visit to remember the old times.
3. What is your biggest dream?
We have developed a new service line during the past eight months, my biggest professional dream is to boost that into a unicorn business. I’m excited about building the growth plan and executing our new strategy.
In my personal life as a mother of two teenagers, my biggest dream is to see them grow up to be happy adults and find their passion and unique place in life. And while dreaming, why do it only for my kids? I dream the same for all the teens out there.
4. What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I wish to share two.
First, speak up and ask for help. Whatever is keeping you awake at night, there most likely is someone who knows how to deal with it – and usually that someone is only one or two connections away in your network. I have a terrible habit of trying to solve problems independently and being too proud to ask for help. However, I have learned that things always somehow sort out when you start sharing your worries.
The same advice also applies to growing your business, not just for solving problems. The more you share your ideas, the more people you will reach.
The second piece of advice was given by a successful entrepreneur who grew his company from zero to stardom. He said: “Emmi, to be honest; when your company gets big, it doesn’t get any easier. The food gets better, but being an entrepreneur doesn’t get any easier.”
As depressing as it may sound, I find it comforting. It means that life is right here and right now. It’s not about doing great things when we have reached our goals. It’s about doing great things while achieving your goals. It’s all about enjoying the journey – although it doesn’t always feel like a joyride.
5. What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?
I would say running workshops and running the company online. One year ago, I would have said that neither of those would work. But the transition happened quite smoothly. I also now know how to knit a hat. I haven’t tried that before. But 2020 gets one to do odd things.
6. Where do you find inspiration and what do you do to stay creative?
I usually find my inspiration from chatting with other people. Luckily I have my two teens who keep enlightening me about their world and topics trending in the channels they follow. That’s how I have learned a lot from Esports and found an awesome musical theatre group called “Team Starkid” and their online productions. I also read, listen to audiobooks, watch sci-fi movies, paint, have walks in nature with my dog, and anything that takes my mind off my work.
If you found Emmi Jouslehto’s story inspiring, join us by spreading positivity and sharing the story on social media with the hashtag #MovingForward.
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Forward is a 6-part short blog series highlighting inspirational founders in the Finnish startup ecosystem. In every post, we ask these founders to share their perspectives, hopes, and biggest dreams with others – all in 6 questions. Our goal is to uplift and inspire the ecosystem – now more than ever, we need great, positive entrepreneurial stories that make us look forward to the future. The series is co-created by Slush and Maria 01.